Canadians have a reputation for being incredibly polite and well-mannered. You would never expect such a dark and violent cult leader like Roch Thériault to have come from a country that prides itself on kindness, acceptance, and inclusion. Thériault was one of the most sadistic cult leaders who murdered their followers, despite claiming to be a man of God.
Thériault was an incredibly charismatic French Canadian with a passion for religion; he was someone who could draw you in like a slick snake oil salesman. In 1977, Thériault was able to charm his way into creating a commune of multiple wives and many children in Burnt River, Ontario, Canada. He convinced his followers he was a prophet, claiming God told him if the followers were not doing as he said. In the Canadian wilderness, he subjected his followers to unspeakable violence and abuse. Losing a limb or participating in lewd acts with children was not out of the ordinary for members of the Ant Hill Kids.
Despite his atrocious behavior and the constant threat of losing life or limb, his members stayed with him. It wasn't until 1989 that the sadistic cult was finally brought to an end.
The facts about Roch Moïse Thériault and his cult are incredibly graphic. If you have a weak stomach, you might want to skip this one.
Thériault started his religious fanaticism with the Seventh Day Adventist Church. He had converted from Catholicism to Seventh Day, and he quickly became an integral part of the church. The church commended him for his success in organizing seminars and selling both the religion and anti-smoking treatments to potential new followers. It was during this time Thériault realized how powerful his ability to charm and persuade was.
Thériault was eventually kicked out of the church for drinking and stealing money. He had amassed a group of followers within the church and decided this was the opportune time to lead them away from the mainstream. In 1977, he - along with these new followers - formed a society called The Ant Hill Kids, a group where everyone could live equally... as long as they listened to him. Eventually, he would lead his followers - most who were young women - out to the woods, where the atrocities began.
In 1967, Thériault met his first wife, Francine Grenier, when she was 17 and he was 21. They had a fairly normal relationship for the first several years until he developed severe stomach pain. He was diagnosed with ulcers and underwent surgery. Unfortunately, the surgery did not go as planned, and Thériault developed “Dumping syndrome” which caused an excessive amount of pain and vomiting.
He tried to deal with the pain by drinking, eventually developing an alcohol addiction. He cheated on Grenier with a new woman named Giselle, who would eventually become the number one wife in the cult. Later, she would tell Thériault the other women of the cult were lonely. Thériault used this to his advantage and decided to “marry” each of them. He produced 26 children with those relationships, several of who were conceived while he was in prison the first time.
After Thériault’s ulcer surgery, he became obsessed with medicine and took any and every opportunity to perform “surgery” on his followers. Fingers, toes, teeth, hands, and arms were removed, and he used his own tools like pliers, knives, and blowtorches to conduct the operations. It wasn't’t until Gabrielle Lavallee, one of his most loyal followers, broke free from the cult after enduring horrific physical and emotional abuse that authorities were alerted.
What Lavallee went through before notifying police is nothing short of nightmare-inducing. Thériault took out eight of her teeth, broke a needle in her back, burned her genitalia, cut off one of her fingers and a breast, chopped off part of her arm with a hunting knife, and hit her over the head with an axe, fracturing her skull.
The abuse to which he subjected his followers was absolutely insane. Not only did he inflict abuse on them, but he also forced his followers to abuse each other. The worst occurred in 1989 to a woman named Solange Boislard. She told Thériault she had pain in her abdomen. He insisted on playing doctor and started with a punch to the stomach. He then gave her an olive oil enema, forced her on her back, and cut open her stomach; he ripped out her intestines and shoved a tube down her throat into which he blew air. He forced Lavallee to stitch her up with a sewing needle and thread.
She died within hours, and Thériault, who thought himself to be a prophet, told his followers he would bring her back to life. He then drilled a hole into her skull and forced the male members of the cult to ejaculate into it. He became obsessed with her coming back to life and wore her rib bone as a necklace.